Hurricane Irma – Before the storm

This post is the first in a series recapping my first experience with a hurricane. I am still trying to wrap my head around everything that happened in the month of September, so thank you for reading my jumbled thoughts on Hurricane Irma. Before I begin I will say, however, that I didn’t get it – I didn’t get the emotions and fear involved with hurricanes until experiencing it for myself. So, if you can’t relate to what I’m sharing, I understand where you’re coming from. I never realized that a hurricane can impact EVERYTHING in your life like food, water, fuel, homes, businesses, jobs, electricity, life savings, etc. I GET IT NOW and this is why I am sharing my experience. I hope others will understand the serious outcomes of massive weather events like hurricanes.

The past 3 weeks of life have been a blur. Most of my fellow Napoleons agree that it has felt like we’ve been living in the Twilight Zone. No one remembers what day it is, what they ate for dinner last night, if they paid their water bill, or what life was like before the storm.

THE storm. Hurricane Irma.

Is she shifting to the west? Yes? No… Maybe she is shifting east? She’s getting weaker, we’re in the clear. Oh wait, just kidding. We’re looking at a Cat. 5 here. The days leading up to Hurricane Irma were confusing. They were full of unpredictable weather forecasts, stress, and the unknown. They were pretty darn terrifying as a hurricane newbie. Although I have friends who’ve lived through their fair share of hurricanes and they were also experiencing the same variety of emotions from sadness to terror to panic to shock.

Approximately 5 days before Irma hit, the forecast was clear. Irma was going to hit Florida. The only thing in question was if she was going to tear up the east coast, the west coast, or the center of the state. No one knew, but it didn’t really matter. Irma was twice as wide as Florida and looked to be the size of Texas on the weather maps. She was going to impact the entire state no matter where her eye hit land.

Panic started to spread throughout Naples the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, September 5th, 2017. In retrospect, the holiday weekend felt like the calm before the storm. And it was, quite literally. Once Tuesday afternoon hit, gas lines were hours long. People were stock piling non-perishables and water at every Publix. (It is recommended you have 2 weeks of food/water/supplies for each person if you choose to ride out the storm.) You could feel the unease in the air.

I don’t take panic well so what did I do? You guessed it. I started to panic.

Imagine learning that a potential Category 5 hurricane is going to devastate your city. Not just “kinda impact” – NO. A Category 5 would completely change the way your city, your HOME, the place where people you love live. It would make Naples look different. It would ruin buildings, flood roads, homes and businesses. It would tear up landscaping and trees as if they were tiny blades of grass meeting the sharp blade of a lawnmower. After the storm, power could be out for weeks in 100+ degree temperatures. There would be no safe drinking water. And no fuel to for vehicles or for generators. Residents would be dependent on the government (military personnel and FEMA) for basics like food and water and places to cool down in the extreme heat.

As a mama of two littles, there was no way I was staying to see what this storm decided to do. My job is to protect my boys and I wasn’t sure I could do that to the best of my ability if we stayed in Naples. I’m sure my fellow mama’s agree that what I’m describing is a SCARY feeling. I didn’t know if my boys would have a home when we (eventually) returned to Naples. I didn’t know if they’d have their beds or their toys or their books or a safe place to live. It felt like a punch in the gut and it still makes me emotional when I think about it.

I do not wish that feeling on my worst enemy.

While Dean was in preschool on Tuesday morning, I ran last minute errands and packed up the house. In less than two hours I had packed clothing and necessities for myself and the boys, moved everything on our lanai into the garage including a 75 pound grill (I knew I did BODYPUMP for a reason!), found important documents we would need to take with us during our evacuation, placed items normally on the floor onto our counter tops in case we experienced flooding, and told Kyle were were getting the heck outta dodge ASAP.

They’re not kidding when they say adrenaline kicks in before a storm!

I will spare you the details of our road trip. 19+ hours in a car with a 2 year old, an infant, and a dog… I’ll just say you didn’t want to be there. Leaving our home and Naples was surreal though. Again, imagine if you were setting out on a “vacation” but you didn’t know if your house would be there when you returned and you had no clue when you would be back. It isn’t a fun feeling.

Throughout the drive and leading up to the storm, I was glued to weather forecasts and CNN. Seeing the devastation Irma caused on her way up to Florida was most definitely NOT reassuring. This storm was continuing to get worse and she was going to impact Naples. It didn’t help to ease my constant concern. While I was relieved to be a safe distance away from the Irma, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about our home and our friends who decided to stay in Naples.

One shining light in the time leading up to the storm was seeing how neighborly Naples became. Strangers were helping strangers put up hurricane shutters and plywood over windows. Those with extra water and supplies were offering it to others. Naples can oftentimes feel… what’s the word… elitist? I’m not sure that’s the exact word I’m searching for but it works. Regardless of where you lived, worked or played, EVERYONE came together to prepare for Irma and it was heartwarming to experience. People really are genuinely GOOD and while I wish it was visible each and every day, it shines through in desperate times.

My memory is somewhat of a blur, but I believe on Thursday or Friday before the storm, forecasters were pretty darn certain Naples was going to get the brunt of the hurricane eye. There was still a chance she could shift eastward or even more westward causing the worst of the winds and flooding to go elsewhere, but it did not look likely. More and more of my friends decided to leave town, even long-time Floridians. That is when you know things are serious. I remember not being able to eat much because I felt sick thinking about what could happen. I was basically living on a liquid (AKA – wine) diet in the days leading up to Irma. The boys and staying busy with friends helped to distract us from the inevitable, but Irma was always creeping in the back of our minds.

A category 4 or 5 hurricane was going to slam into Naples – my home, where my boys were born, where Kyle and I have lived and worked and played for 3 years – in 48 hours. We were safe and my friends who were staying were as prepared as they could be. At this point, there was nothing to do but wait.

To be continued…

James Reilly – Newborn Photos

Doesn’t everyone love an adorable collection of newborn baby photos?

Yes?

Because he’s my kid and naturally I think he’s cute, I thought I’d share James’ newborn images from his photo shoot last week.

They were taken when he was 5 days new and our photographer, Rochelle Shucart did an incredible job. She’s taken all of our professional photos since we moved to Naples and I HIGHLY recommend her if you’re searching for a Naples, Florida photographer.

Now, for the cuteness…

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